Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification Monetary Thresholds

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Whether it is from projects with CTA, Metra, or IDOT, there are millions of dollars in contracts that are bid each year which include a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal.  To be qualified as a DBE, the business owner or owners must meet specific requirements in three categories: ownership, control, and financial conditions.

These are set forth by federal statute.   

  • Ownership

The owner must be part of a presumed group, including women and specified minorities.  The company must be owned and controlled by a person or persons qualifying under the statute. This person must also be a US citizen.

  • Control

The owner or owners who qualify as DBE must both own more than 50% of the company and they must actually be in a position to control the company.  The owner must be able to demonstrate their control of the company including the ability to hire and fire, and knowledge of the business in terms of technical competency and financial matters.

  • Financial Conditions

Under the law, the owner or owners must have a net worth of less than $1.32 million dollars.  Items excluded from a person’s net worth calculation include an individual’s ownership interest in the company and their equity in their primary residence. 

The business itself must also be financially small. 

To qualify as a DBE, the company may not have annual gross receipts over $22,410,000 in the previous three fiscal years ($52,470,000 for airport concessionaires with some exceptions). Under recent law, this amount will be updated every year by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation.

So, is it worth it to get certified? YES

Once your business is certified, be sure to renew it each year. Each year, billions of dollars in government-funded projects are up for bids. Whether you are a marketing firm, an engineering firm, manufacturer, or painter, your DBE certification puts you in a position bid or be part of a bid for large government contracts.

All state and federal programs are subject to change, so it is essential to stay updated and informed.  If you are in need of a government procurement attorney please contact 1818.


Jordan Matyas

Jordan Matyas

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Jordan Matyas is a lawyer, lobbyist, and Founder of 1818 Legal, an Illinois professional licensing defense law firm he created in 2014. With more than 18 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including professional license defense, administrative law, land use and zoning, and state, local, and municipal law.

Jordan received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar Association.